The work of Mike Varley

The Mike Varley Plain Dealer: Vol. IV, Issue I

March 17th, 2010 by admin

Hello All,

Welcome to another edition of the Mike Varley Plain Dealer.  Since it’s the start of a new birth year for me, this is the issue where I review the goals of last year, take stock of accomplishments and create some objectives for the year to come.  Interspersed will be life updates as they’ve happened in the past few months.  As always, speed readers heed bold.

First, The Goals of 25 (with their accompanying descriptions from last year):

1. Bruce and Dom – “Get it finished, get it out there.  This will likely take the year”

–Well I was absolutely correct.  Between the limited amount of time we’ve had to edit, the number of changes we’ve made and the amount we’ve cut out, it has taken a year to get it to form.  It runs around 70 minutes now, down from two hours.  We were ready to put it to DVD when Mark found a trick to improve audio quality, so we’re working on that now. I’m planning on submitting to festivals in the “Experimental – Feature Length” category.  Here’s the movie trailer for those new to this conversation.

2.  The Events of Election ’08 – “I’ve finally got two projects I’m ready to push to the fullest.  And while I’m happy making works just to make them, there needs to be a point where you assert yourself.  I think 25 is going to be less a production year and more a performance year.”

–Distribution was a mixed bag.  The CD’s came out very nice, but I was unable to find a distributor for them.  I’m happy to have it as a finished product, and I think between the economic crisis, Obama, Palin, and bipartisanship at its peak, this was a good election to cover because people will be interested in it for years to come.  You can find the companion website here.

3. Get a City Job “Since the last email, a marketing firm called campfirenyc has contacted me about a potential job.  They want me to work there, but they haven’t finalized the project with the client yet.  I should know in the next week or two. I really hope this goes through.  Wish me luck and prayers.”

–Well that job obviously didn’t work out, along with any other opportunities I had this year, causing me a lot of despair over the fall.  I feel better about things now; I’m looking for jobs but at the same time I’m not resenting myself for being at my current job, which I really enjoy.  It’s not a forever situation, but nothing is.  The job will come when it comes; I’m not interested in hating myself over it anymore.

Interestingly enough, I do have a new city job, though not a full time one.  On Tuesday nights I work at Circle in the Square theater, handing out listening devices and then vacuuming the theater when the show is over.  I got the job through my sister, who has worked at Circle for a number of years now.  I like it so far; I’m meeting new people, doing something different and saving up money.  The play on right now is The Miracle Worker, starring Abagail Breslin, Matthew Modine, and House, M.D’s Jennifer Morrison, among others.  It’s a good feeling to do something new.

4. – “Continue with content, continue to upgrade.”

–I’ve kept up with the quantity of content, but I think the variety could be better.  I started up Six Word Stories and a weekly link segment, both of which have worked well.  I did two trip updates, one on California and one on Maine.  I put up one art art piece, Brooklyn 2009, put up the election site and finished a new story, “We Know You Know I Know.” The site remains a good place to direct people to when I want to show my work.

5.  Performing in the City – “Related to #2, as I’ll be doing spoken word stuff, but getting out there to perform and making contacts.”

This has gone nowhere, as I haven’t performed since I lived down in Austin.  I am in touch with some people who are interested in displaying my artwork, however.  After I’m done with the Twin Canvas Project, I intend to make a portfolio of my work and start getting it around.

The Accomplishments of 25

1.  We Know You Know I Know This consumed a good chunk of my time last year, between email correspondence, writing and audio recording.  It is an accomplishment in both the story created and the personal growth elicited by such a confounding character as Seasick Mama.  If you haven’t heard or read it yet, I highly recommend taking the time:

2.  Bruce and Dom – Continues to be an accomplishment more out of endurance than anything.  It’s hard to use terms like “proud” at this point – it’s like being proud of your shinbone or your thumbnail.  I’m unable to hear or see it with any newness anymore.  Perhaps that will change with an audience.

3.  The Secret Lives of Crossing Guards – Somewhere around last May, we stopped going to Monday night trivia at the local bar and started playing music in our apartment.  At first, it was Jordan on acoustic guitar, me on a crappy, unweighted keyboard with a broken “E” and Mark on chairs – literally Mark playing chairs as drums.  Now Ramsey plays the guitar, Tyler plays bass, Jordan’s gone electric, I have a real keyboard and Mark has a drum set.  I’m still not that great, but I’m starting to understand new things piece by piece, which is exciting.  It’s a whole other language, a whole other medium of expression.

Here’s a new version of “Ess o Ess,” the song I sent out last update, this time with me singing. It’s still very raw, but we’re getting there.

4.  Continued Creative Growth and Mindfulness
– After putting it off for a couple of years, I finally invested the time to explore mindfulness in earnest.  It’s hard to say if I’m succeeding or not.  I have a tough time with not getting down on myself for not “doing it right” when the whole point is it’s impossible not to do it right once you bring your full attention to it.  Just focus on present thoughts and actions rather than stray to the past or future and you’re there.  At the very least, reading or listening to material dealing with mindfulness gives me great joy because it resonates with me so profoundly, and I appreciate that.

5.  Paintings – The most finished work for me this year was paintings.  “Brooklyn, 2009” was finished towards the beginning of this year and I enjoy it very much.  Not up on the website yet are “You Can’t Have Enough Love,” which is another in the pants series and “At Night,” which isn’t a painting but follows in the clothing to canvas series.

Recently finished and first in my heart is “All You’ve Ever Wanted has Always Been Right Here.”  This is painting one of the Twin Canvas Project.  It took five months to complete, starting in November and going through last week.  Go check it out at the website.

The Goals for 26:

1.  The Twin Canvas Project and Portfolio Build – I still need to do the second canvas for the Twin Canvas Project, which will likely take 3-4 months.  I hope it takes less time, but everything inevitably takes more time than you imagine it to be.

2.  Bruce and Dom festival submission – The project that connects all pasts, presents, and futures.  I’m looking to submit to $1,000-$1,500 dollars worth of festivals – somewhere between 35-50.  It’s a pretty experimental film, so I don’t know what to expect, but I hope to get it in to at least a couple of places.  I’ve certainly said this before, but expect an update on the movie soon.

3.  Continue with “The Secret Lives of Crossing Guards” – I’d like to continue my slow, steady progress with piano, singing and song composition.  I have no expectations for this facet of my life other than enjoying our music creation.

4.  Give up Internet for a month – This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now.  I want to chronicle what it’s like to disconnect for a month, each day recording my experience and reflecting on a different facet of life the internet impacts – politics, relationships, happiness, etc.  When finished, I’d transcribe everything for the website and “Retro-blog” the results.

5.  Continue – I have a novella and two short stories that have been sitting finished, waiting to be put up on the website.  I need to either do the audio recording or just put them up so they’re off my plate.  I also need to put together a site for Bruce and Dom.

6.  Script Idea – After years and years of working there, I finally have an inclination to write about the nursing home.  I need to think very hard if I want to undertake a project that will be twice as big as the last film.  Moving on in this manner from one project to the next…it’s American, but I’m not sure it’s healthy.  I need to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind before I begin it.

7.  Europe – This summer, Erin and I are thinking about going to Europe for two weeks – one week in France and one week in Ireland so I can get Irish citizenship.  The jig is, if you are a grandparent or less removed from Ireland, you just have to prove lineage and prove you’ve visited to acquire citizenship.  With that comes the EU passport, so you can live anywhere in Europe and the right to go to school for free anywhere in the Union.  Who knows if I’d ever use that, but it’d be a cool thing to have, and I’ve never been overseas.

In summation:

New job, at Circle in the Square Theater

New painting, “All You’ve Ever Wanted Has Always Been Right Here.”

New recording of “Ess O Ess” by TSLoCG

Thanks for reading.

Mike Varley

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